The return of key players to the rotation, including Carmelo Anthony and Baron Davis, and the acquisition of J.R. Smith, has given head coach Mike D’Antoni a problem.
For the first time all season, the Knicks can go at least 10 deep. The task at hand for D’Antoni is to massage egos and judiciously manage minutes, while trying to get a team to jell in this truncated season.
“Like coach said, there’s going to be a little bit of adjustment time,” said point guard Jeremy Lin. “There’s things we need to sort out, things to talk about [and] find out where we want to go from here. [Monday night] was day one and obviously we’re not happy with day one, but sometimes you have to go through tough times as a team.”
The alternative could be worse, D’Antoni pointed out, because just a month ago the Knicks were a team in a rut with no leadership at the all-important point guard position and two superstars who were still trying feel each other out.
“We won’t change things too much from what we’ve done over the years,” D’Antoni said. “I think this will be sustainable and [in turn] the mood has changed here for the better. … It’s good to know we go into every game thinking we’re going to win.”
Anthony, who had a less-than-auspicious comeback from a groin injury that shelved him for seven games, admitted it’ll take time to get everyone on the same page and used a Henry Ford quote to get his point across (“Coming together is the beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success”).
There’s no doubt the Knicks are a work in progress but with the amount of talent now in the starting rotation and on the bench, New York can finally “hunt a grizzly bear with a gun” as D’Antoni likes to say.
Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.